Archive for Novel

Author Interview: Ksenia Anske

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2013 by royalmanaball

Ksenia Anske is an author of reckoning. Probably the first writer to ever be interviewed by The Huffington Post – without having published! How cool is that? She is the proud author of the brave trilogy The Siren Suicides. It’s an irreal, bizarre and sad tale of Ailen, a teen who commits suicide in order to escape her morbid home life only to transform into a siren, or rather, a vengeful mermaid upon her death. Despite her new-found existence, her problems fail to cease…

This transmission, we are interviewing Ms. Anske and are going to pick her wild brain about her writing process, her books and her coping mechanisms with life, love and happiness as an author. Let’s begin!

The author in her natural environment.

The author in her natural environment.

Hello, Ksenia! So nice to have you on Royal Manaball. We have a few questions that we and many of your fans are sure to be interested.

This is a question I must ask about the nature of Ailen. Is she undead or has she been reborn?

She is undead, kind of like a watery zombie, and she can only be killed by a very high frequency noise that will literally blow her up. It could be done two ways, either the classic old-style way (they’ve been blowing up sirens like this in the Middle Ages) by a whip, cracking it so what it produces a sonic boom, or by a special sonic gun, blasting her at close range into her chest.

Speaking of death and undeath, what does death mean to you? How instrumental of a concept does death hold for your writing?

I was very close to death when I wanted to take my life, but when I decided not to go through with suicide, I sort of felt reborn, but better than reborn, I felt like I was a clean slate, a clean piece of paper, and that I could build my life anew any way I wanted to. Because of this experience death is a very big topic in my books, I suspect, it will be in the future. I tend to have a birth and a death in every one of my novels, so it might become a recurrent theme? In any case, birth and death are two things that are part of life, so I think they have to have central place in any story. And a clock, because life is ticking away and we are closer to our end every minute . I think Chuck Palahniuk said at one of his book tours that I attended that every story needs a birth, a death, and a clock. I took this advice to heart.

Now, as we talk about life, how has your life changed since publishing The Siren Suicides? Does it feel like a rebirth for you?

It felt like a beginning of something new. I couldn’t believe I wrote a whole trilogy (still pinching myself), and because of it I feel like I can write books now. I mean, if you have written 3, then the 4th one doesn’t seem so scary, does it? I have also connected to people on a level the depth of which I couldn’t imagine. These are people I have never met, these are my readers from all over the world, from France, to Australia, to Egypt, to UK, to even Russia (yes, I am from Russia, although I write in English). These people said that they felt EXACTLY like Ailen, and they so far have sent me in the mail: postcards, checks with money, boxes of chocolate, shoes painted with an image of the siren, t-shirts with my quotes, and even flowers. I mean, my readers became my family, and I love them to pieces, and they love me too, across the boundaries of space and time! What else could one ask for?

Once a saga is complete, how does it feel for you? I mean, how do you feel in that it’s over and the main event has passed? Is there a sense of grief that you and Ailen aren’t playing together anymore, or do you feel fine putting her back in the toybox?

I feel relieved. It was very painful to go back into my own memories, extracting my feelings, and writing about them. I had to drag myself almost by the hair every day into my pain, to get it out. I felt cleansed and happy every day after writing, but to start was torture, because everything I’ve written about I have felt for real. Now that it’s over it feels like I cut it out of myself and gave to the world, leaving a hole behind that is already healing, and hopefully is helping others heal as well. So to me it’s a stage of my life that is over, but to every new reader it’s current, happening now, so when I get their feedback, I go back to my story, and think, wow, did I really feel all of this, did I really do through this Writing, like nothing else, has helped me see my own change and growth. It’s an amazing feeling, really. I recommend to everyone to write a novel, just for therapy.

In regard to my previous question, do you feel the characters of your saga are like toys or dolls and your books are the “dollhouse?” I see it this way with my YA work. No matter how grim or grotesque the plot gets, I still have fun playing with my characters and wondering what they might do next.

No, they felt real to me when writing. In general, when I write, I dive into the story fully, as if scribbling down complete scenes of a movie. I get fully submerged into it, with music, images, smells, and touch. That’s why it is hard for me to start sometimes, because to me writing is like acting, I have to get into character, only then do I produce good work. The down side of this is, of course, getting out of character, but that’s a whole another conversation.

Tell us a little about your upcoming release, Rosehead. Does this tale hold similar facets of The Siren Suicides? Is it YA?

It’s very different, on the surface. But deep underneath it has the same longing of a child to have a family, something I never had. So, on the surface, it’s YA. There are no swear words, no nudity, no sex scenes, as there are in Siren Suicides. The main character, Lilith Bloom, a twelve year old from Boston, is very polite, likes ballet, books, and handmade knit berets. Her pet whippet Panther can talk and is her only friend. They typically engage in a very sarcastic banter, imagining themselves Holmes and Watson. Lilith and Panther to Berlin, to Lilith’s gradnfather’s mansion for the family reunion. Alfred Bloom is the owner of BLOOM & CO, the company that grows and produces exclusive roses, shipping them fresh all over the world. And so, the entire book happens in the Bloom property, in the mansion and the rose garden, which eats some very strange things, as Lilith and Panther discover. They embark on an investigation of the mystery, that is both funny and bloodcurdling.

The author in her not-so-natural environment.

The author in her not-so-natural environment.

Now, I do this with all my interviewees – Word Association. I give you a word, and you tell me what comes first to your mind. Shall we?

Russia.

Vodka.

America

Flag.

Lightning

Thunder.

Dolphin

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Water

Ocean.

Flower

Bloody rose.

Speed

Motorcycle.

Monkey

Zombie monkey chasing me across the field.

Okay, that was painless, yes? Thank you for your time, Ms. Anske and I do appreciate your time with us. We at Royal Manaball wish you all the best of luck with The Siren Suicides Saga and Rosehead. Below are all of the relevant links to Ksenia’s work including her magnificent blog. Be sure to pick up The Siren Suicides today!

Click the pic and get your copy!

Click the pic and get your copy!

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Google+

YouTube

Instagram

Flickr

Goodreads

Author Spotlight – Gina Ranalli

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2013 by royalmanaball

Once again, I delve into the land of Bizarro with another talented writer in that oddball, new literary movement.

Gina Ranalli is a female presence in a literary genre that has not many representing it. Don’t get me wrong, Bizarro isn’t a boy’s club by any means; it is populated with a few bold women like Athena Villaverde, C.V. Hunt and Constance Ann Fitzgerald, but as of 2013, the ladies are in the minority here. So, to any of my fellow female writers following Royal Manaball: Write Bizarro!

I’ve been following Ms. Ranalli’s work for a while now and I can’t recall how or why I began reading her tales. Perhaps it was the cool cover art, or maybe just the Amazon synopsis, but after beginning with House of Fallen Trees, I was hooked.

Gina Ranalli: Bizarro Central

Gina Ranalli: Bizarro Central

There are many themes and idiosyncrasies that glue her catalog together. Sometimes they are subtle, other times they are quite overt, but any which way, these topics are always subverted.

Gina tends to examine feminism with a sober and somewhat detached style of writing, almost as if to say, “Yeah, sure, this is feminist, but do we have to focus on that?” I find it a bit refreshing that her ability to handle gender politics is subdued and, at times, lovingly poked fun at. This humor, and Ranalli is a master at crafting humor, helps normalize issues of gender politics and ultimately, makes the concept inviting and fun to outsiders – the way it should be!

Children are another one of Gina’s pet topics. For the most part, if you’re a kid in a Ranalli book – you’re evil. It’s true, kids can be cruel, but this author can take the concept of childhood cruelty and make it horrifying, even apocalyptic in some cases.

Ranalli’s books usually feature a protagonist who is somehow in a minority population, be it sexual orientation, gender, race, creed, etc. What is interesting to me is how we may not find out this information until halfway through the book. It’s a detail that is dropped casually and organically – again, the way it should be!

Bottom line: Ranalli doesn’t like preaching and she doesn’t like to do the preaching either. The aforementioned subtleties this author employs to convey her messages and subtexts take quite the skill to render in such a way. Sure her books may be loaded, what ones aren’t, but these don’t blow up in your face and get in the way of entertaining, scary, weird (and they are weird) tales.

Some highlights to Ranalli’s catalog include:

Praise the Dead: This is a zombie book, but zombies are just incidental here. The real monster is the evil, little sociopath who started it all. Andrew Perry is so foul and obnoxious as a child who can raise the dead – into shambling flesheaters. Gina illustrates him as this morbid, little Howdy Doody, who, ironically, is the puppet master here as he marches down the streets leading his cannibalistic horde. I think Perry is one of my top ten villains in books thus far.

Mothman Emerged: C’mon, you know I love cryptids – Mermaids, Sasquatch, the Mad Gasser of Mattoon. Here, Ranalli focuses not on the tired, old fare of vampires and werewolves, but the Mothman. Eh, not just a mothman, but more like an infestation of them. After a bit, no where in Lockwood, Washington is safe from these beasties, and let me tell you – they bite. HARD! Although it is gory, the language is kept to a minimum and any sexual content is “offscreen.” This book is fine for the YA market.

Mother Puncher: Once again, children are the villain here, but not any one child, just the concept of being born in an overpopulated world is shamed. In order to bring down that shame, “mother punchers” are employed to punch the parents of the newborn right in the hospital on the day of delivery. Problems arise for State-sponsored mother puncher Ed Means when professional rivalry threatens his very livelihood and family. This contest ends up getting out of hand – way out of hand.

Wall of Kiss: This novel features a woman who just can’t seem to get it right. Eventually she snaps and falls in love with a bare wall in her living room. No, I’m not kidding – and Ranalli makes this work! The featured woman’s descent into madness is so well-crafted and believable that you can’t help but turn the page to see what messed-up thing she’s going to do next. By the way, this character is seriously ill and does not hide her hallucinations from the general public. Just like Mother Puncher, what begins as a wee barleycorn of trouble blooms into an over-the-top hurricane.

House of Fallen Trees: God, I LOVED this! First off, it takes place on a pirate ship in the middle of a forest. How cool is that? As bizarre as that seems, there is a logical explanation to it which is the crux of this remarkable ghost story. The characters here are so naturally rendered, that I cannot help but think of mumblecore horror films like The Innkeepers or House of the Devil. Speaking of which, I loved this book so much, it would be a dream to see Ti West direct the film version. Subtle, quiet horror with a deafening ending.

Suicide Girls in the Afterlife: I enjoy any books that dare to imagine an afterlife. There is such a wellspring of imaginative options for a writer with this milieu at hand. So, what happens when you are a couple of emo girls who commit suicide (well, one kinda does, but didn’t really mean to)? I can’t give away too much here, but the Afterlife is a flying hotel and Jesus smokes a lot of weed.

These are just a few offerings from this prolific writer and she continues to produce on a regular basis. I’ll be sure to get Brainfused Colorwheel next.

In Response to Ksenia Anske.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2013 by royalmanaball

Ksenia Anske, author of The Siren Suicides, due in July, had just posted a blog in regards to the time-honored kerfuffle of how one can write a book – Pantsing versus Plotting.

Truth be told, I had just learned of the term “pantsing” last month. No foolin’. For those not in-the-know, it means to “write from the seat of your pants.” Not necessarily stream-of-conscious, but damn close.

Ach… how do I do it? Hmm… Well, when I had written Celestials, I did begin via pantsing, I suppose, but I soon found myself having to keep a “playbook.” This is basically an outline for your plot and a poopsheet for your characters. Now, I don’t mean you have to write everything that is in the bellboy’s closet that won’t even remotely be mentioned in the narrative, but it does file down some of the basics. What they do look like and, most importantly, what they do and don’t know.

I had managed my playbook in a very pantsing style, however. Things would develop and I would outline it as I went along. Remember, your characters are going to wind up writing the story for you eventually. No, they really will, and thus, the plot may change. Does this make me a pantser?

A typical writer's butt.

A typical writer’s butt.

Research. I do it. Only when I need to, though. If I have some sort of technical question, the wonderful world of the Interwebz will fulfill my need in a jet-flash. No excuse for technical inaccuracies anymore.

Normally, I’ve always thought of myself as a plotter, but I think I do rely on the wind to carry me more so than I imagine. My proofer and my editing phases or “passes” (I never think of them as “drafts.” I just don’t), take care of everything from the major transgressions to the minor peccadillos. MS Word is vertical, and I figure my process in a linear fashion.

Ksenia writes that she produces no less than two thousand words a day. I’m pretty much on base with her. During this principal production phase (my first “draft”), I write and write and do so simply via the little animated cartoons going on in my imagination.

That’s easy for me since I am, by trade, a graphic designer. Visual play is second nature to me, so as long as the film keeps rolling in my head, I can translate that into written drama.

I am not educated in English or Comp. Lit. or Creative Writing – nothing like that. Big University styles and shibboleths are more or less unknown to me. Because of this, I don’t kvetch for hours on end over, “It t’was the Schooner Hesperus! No, no. It WAS the Schooner Hesperus…”  Sure, I enjoy a certain beat or music to my writing, but I just let that come as it does and edit out the chaff during a later “pass.” Resting upon this knowledge, I just tap away during principal production and this does make the words flow in an easier fashion for me. I won’t stop until I hit that goal, because this is my job like any other and I’m not allowed to punch out early.

Due to this semi-pantsing process, if someone doesn’t enjoy my final “gold-phase” product, well, that’s just a question of that reader not liking my style. There’s plenty of styles out there and far more readers.

Archons Now Available!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2013 by royalmanaball

Folks, I have just gotta say that it has been a busy two weeks, so, sorry to be so scarce. Launching a new novel can be a daunting task. Last-minute edits, checking and double-checking. Oh, and then I had to design TWO book covers.

Anyway, with that being said, I now present unto you The Ancients and the Angels: Archons!

archons logo final2The saga continues as we follow Quen’die Reyliss and company. If you thought Celestials was dark, this one is even more so. Not only is it available on Amazon, but you can also find it on Smashwords.

On a grand note, Celestials is now available on Smashwords too! Finally! It had to happen. Check out this cool new cover to the e-book version!

celestials logo final2Pretty nice, huh?

Well, even nicer, is my BRAND, NEW DEAL! As a part of my contribution to Lada Ray’s YA Revolution, I am now GIVING AWAY the e-book of Celestials – FOREVER! That’s right! Call me insane, but I’ve gotta spread the word. You can only enjoy this offer from Smashwords, as Amazon is stupid and they make me sell it for 99 cents over there. So, uh, yeah… get it off Smashwords.

So, grab a copy of each today! Go on Smashwords and enjoy TWO entries to my awesome saga for only $2.99 – TOTAL! Not too shabby.

If you want, you can find my Amazon editions for kindle here and here

Have fun, and happy reading!

Author Spotlight: Sam Pink

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2013 by royalmanaball

When there’s no more room in hell, the dead won’t say “hello.”

I do not like green eggs and ham..

I do not like green eggs and ham…

Chicago is one of those places that simply does things its own way. Sure, every city on Earth has its local flavor and color, but the Windy City has the power to make things happen. Its seminal force is strong and the town possesses a track record to prove it. Industrial, post-rock, post-jazz, house and acid house all have been spawned within her city limits.

There’s just something about this burg that bends rules and pushes envelopes, but not in a “more and faster,” vertical fashion. A concept might erupt in New York, L.A. or London but once it hits Chicago – well, anything goes. The artform in question will be indistinguishable from its maiden article.

Sam Pink is an author that casts all care to the wind (pun intended) and writes from what little is left of his heart. As one Amazon reviewer had claimed, his writing “makes you feel kind of icky.”

Mr. Pink’s work is of the “Bizarro” genre (whatever that means anymore) and, yes, it’s very bizarre, yet so goddamn real that you have to wonder what in the hell happened to the American society in the last twenty years. Pink’s books actually hurt to read, and because of that, his mission is accomplished. You now have the opportunity to feel something in a world that has neutralized you.

On the topic of Chicago, Sam paints the city as a character within itself. The “L,” actual named eateries and cornershops are all present here. The streets exist here as well, and if you live in Chicago, you can actually map out where his characters are walking.

Before, I’ve stated that Andersen Prunty may be the Graham Greene of the 21st Century, but Sam Pink is its Charles Bukowski. But you have to remember, Sam lives in a different time and economy than that of Chuck. As such, he will filter his experiences in accordance to those factors. The characters that populate his pages all suffer the same lives as the protagonist and everybody is a loser, but it’s a similar mentality nonetheless. There’s no conflict of “us vs. them.” All here share the same leaking boat. It’s not about drugs or booze or any lavish parade of self-destruction. It just is.

God, the dialog! It’s so painful to read it, but this is what people actually sound like! When I go to the checkout at my local Dominick’s, I equate the brainless chatter of the cashiers with my equally-mindless responses. Sam captures this moronic parlay to a “T.”

Plotwise, there really isn’t such in any of his books. Well, the formats aren’t rendered in some Dadaist cut-up a ’la Burroughs or Ballard, they’re quite digestible, but Pink treats you to a slice of life for the main character’s day and nothing more. The plots almost poke fun at the concept of character development, because true progress is not allowed in his world. The protagonist finishes these “tales” exactly where he begins – nowhere.

I’ve read plenty of blogs and articles about character development and how to render a character. Yes, Pink’s stories are character-driven, but the prime directives for these people rendered are to make contact with someone. In every attempt the “hero” tries to accomplish his task, it ends in a hermetic fantasy that no one will ever have the opportunity to enjoy but the reader. A schizoid ballet with only one dancer.

Bottom line: Sam Pink writes zombie novels, but novels that feature real zombies – you!

Look, I know some of you Manaballers may feel insulted by that last line (“How dare you! I’ve supped on dog meat in Kuala Lumpur! I speak fluent Albanian! I’m no zombie”), but others will relate spot-on with these notions once devouring a Pink novel. So, with that, I apologize. Well, not really… Fuck you.

But emotions are a central theme to the entirety of his catalog, and Pink captures them with such Zen grace. Fear, hate, anger and anticipation. All of these hopes for such experiences are crushed by the main character’s ego and, perhaps, medication? As stated above, everyone featured here is neutralized. Feelings are simply not allowed in his works by an invisible, unwritten law. Break it, and you could die. But maybe if I just try to…

Back when I was a state-sponsored therapist, I was instructed to teach my clients (captives) to cope. Not to deal with their issues, mind you, but to cope. Coping is a word that implies inactivity. To put up with it all. The prose of Sam Pink perfectly illustrates the lives of people who are putting up with it, whether they know it or not.

Scan1

Below is a survey of Sam’s remarkable books that I have read:

The Self-Esteem Holocaust Comes Home – More of a detached foray into writing, every story is like a rejected screenplay, but one that you secretly wish was produced.

Rontel – Not going to spoil the surprise of who “Rontel” is. Just read it.

The No Hellos Diet – The main character is YOU. Time to “live.”

Person – Five stars. Amazing.

You Hear Ambulance Sounds and Think They Are for You – A Poetry/prose hybrid. But they aren’t for you. Promise.

Hurt Others – Just don’t. Well, maybe…

Check out Sam’s site right hereCrown Yourself Then Kill Yourself!

Shameless Self-Promotion

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2012 by royalmanaball

My Goodreads review of The Ancients and the Angels: Celestials.

 

Well, I wrote the book and I must say it’s a labor of love. Currently in it’s revised form with updated typesetting for better readability, it is available in trade paperback and Kindle editions.

Although the title may connote a religious-based work, the story is indeed a secular romance for the young adult audience.

It does deal with themes of mysticism and theosophical spirituality, but these topics are easy for the uninitiated reader to digest.

With humble, suburban beginnings, the drama unfolds across the earth (and Mars!) and even beyond our prime reality.

Read “Celestials” and you’ll enjoy a combination of planetary, paranormal romance, elegant horror and science fiction culminating into a series of epic battles with the very soil of the earth as the prize.

It’s a soapy space opera. Perhaps a spacey soap opera.

Look for The Ancients and the Angles Volume 2: Archons later this year!

Andersen Prunty and “The Fuckness”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 21, 2012 by royalmanaball

I was a drug counselor in Middletown, Ohio for three years. It’s smack-dab in between Dayton and Cinci. Why do you think they call it Middletown anyway?? My clientele were of the adolescent intensive outpatient population. I almost feel I have a personal connection to this story because I believe it takes place there with these kinds of children.

Andersen knows his lay of the land. Middletown (Middleton, here) is like Mos Eisley in Ohio. A hive of scum and villainy.

Hang on before you hate on me for saying this (truth be told, I don’t care if you do).

The tiny city is a perfect experiment of squeezing the dirt-poor right next door to Ohio Royalty. The former are bullied by society in general to believe that they have nothing ever – EVER – to look forward to and the latter thought that Bush Junior was the best-durn thang that done ever happened to these here U S’s of A.

Prunty focuses on the former – a boy with sweet F.A. in his future or his present. He’s weird and nobody at his podunk school likes him. His parents beat the holy hell out of him on a regular basis. Then one day, they give it to him good – he gets the horns.

Time to kill. The gods of Po’ White Trash have chosen him to get rid of all of his shackles, murder his moron parents, steal the nearest riding lawnmower and go find himself so he can defeat The Fuckness.

Knowing Middletown like I do, it would take a bizarre adventure for the less-than-honeyed to ever hope to bust through the Van Allen belts of hate and despair and allow the last shred of your own personality to shine in the end.

Andersen Prunty is the Graham Greene of the 21st Century and this novel is a testament to that. I know many may think those are tall words for a Bizarro author, but he is so in touch with the human condition that he can take genre and truly examine humanity at its worst – but for the best.

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